More than 100 direct flights from India have landed in the UK since the covid-ravaged Asian nation was positioned on the Government’s banned record of nations final month, it has emerged.
This signifies that as much as 8,000 travellers have flown in from the subcontinent regardless of concern over an Indian covid variant that threatens to undermine the easing of the nationwide lockdown.
Flights from India have continued to land in Britain at a price of 4.5 per day in the three and a half weeks since the Asian nation was added to the UK’s purple record of locations, based on an evaluation of flight information by LBC.
Though the UK has banned direct flights from 11 different purple record nations together with Brazil and South Africa, it didn’t undertake an analogous coverage when India was positioned on the record. Direct flights into the UK are additionally allowed from neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh, each purple record international locations.
It has sparked calls from Labour to toughen up the UK border and halt the resumption of world journey, with Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth in the present day branding the borders ‘about as safe as a sieve’.
He informed Sky News: ‘Our shadow house secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has lengthy been calling on your programme and different programmes that we want a complete border coverage. Our borders have been about as safe as a sieve all through this disaster and it’s why we’re seeing these variants bounce at us.
‘There’s in all probability going to be extra of this as effectively, so we have set to work internationally to deliver an infection charges down and ensure the world is vaccinated. But we have additionally bought to have safe borders and controls as effectively.’
Ministers are being accused of sowing ‘mass confusion’ over international journey because the Government’s visitors mild coverage descended into farce – with Environment Secretary George Eustice suggesting journeys to amber international locations to see family and friends had been acceptable, earlier than being overruled by Boris Johnson simply hours later.
The Prime Minister yesterday insisted such journey was off limits, as well being minister Lord Bethell claimed holidays wherever overseas had been ‘harmful’ and overseas journeys ‘not for this yr’. Astonishingly, the peer even didn’t rebuff the ‘idiotic’ concept that returning holidaymakers needs to be electronically tagged in quarantine.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart additional heightened the confusion final night time by saying ‘some individuals would possibly suppose a vacation is important’ and they need to use their ‘widespread sense’.
Education minister Gillian Keegan in the present day added to the chaos by saying journey to amber record international locations was ‘not for pleasure journey for the time being’, however for ‘particular circumstances’ akin to enterprise or funeral.
But she admitted the Government has not legislated to ban individuals from going on vacation overseas, which is prone to increase additional questions on how the visitors mild coverage could be correctly enforced.
The contradictory messages left beleaguered journey chiefs begging for readability, with tons of of flights to amber international locations having already left the UK and demand for overseas breaks taking pictures via the roof.
On Monday the outright ban on overseas journey was changed by a inexperienced, amber and purple visitors mild system grading completely different international locations by their covid danger stage. But amid concern over overseas variants, ministers then introduced that nobody ought to vacation in an amber nation even when they quarantined on their return.
To add to the uncertainty, the EU is predicted to announce in the present day that its member states will welcome fully-vaccinated Britons this summer time with out the necessity for virus checks or quarantine – regardless of the Prime Minister discouraging individuals from travelling to the continent for holidays.
It adopted stories of giant queues and delays at Heathrow yesterday, as purple record arrivals mingled with inexperienced record or amber record ones and sparked fears of airports being a ‘tremendous spreader’ if security measures are usually not put in place.
All arrivals are at present going into the identical queues on the border, which has raised considerations over social distancing and other people from amber or inexperienced record international locations coming into contact with these from purple record nations.
Downing Street has insisted that it is right down to airports to ensure border queues occur in a covid-secure means, and that the Government is ‘doing every part attainable to make this course of as environment friendly as attainable’.
As the coronavirus disaster enters its subsequent section and the nationwide lockdown is eased, it emerged:
- Spanish and Greek tourism chiefs known as for his or her island areas to be handled individually to the mainland;
- The Army will search to self-discipline troopers who refuse to have a coronavirus jab;
- Virus deaths hit their lowest stage in greater than eight months, with twice as many individuals now dying from flu;
- The figures raised hopes that Mr Johnson may quickly declare that lockdown curbs will finish in June;
- However the variety of areas detecting the Indian variant has surged 44 per cent in every week;
- Job vacancies hit their highest stage since the beginning of the pandemic;
- Dominic Cummings launched a contemporary assault on the Government’s dealing with of the pandemic;
- A nurse singled out by Mr Johnson for saving his life from covid has give up over the Government’s ‘lack of respect’ for the occupation.
A passenger arriving from ‘purple record’ India (left) and one other arriving from New York in ‘amber record’ US (proper) arrive on the similar time at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 yesterday
Three kids stroll in entrance of a lady on the arrivals corridor at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2
Passengers arrive at London Heathrow Terminal 2 yesterday, in the future after the brand new journey ‘visitors mild’ system got here into drive
Passengers wait to board a coach to a quarantine lodge outdoors Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Terminals 2 and 5 are open (in inexperienced) however 3 and 4 (in purple) have been mothballed since final yr to economize
- TIMETABLE OF TRAVEL TURMOIL
- Spanish and Greek tourism bosses need their islands on the UK’s inexperienced record
- End amber record journey recommendation shambles: Tourism chiefs’ plea as overseas vacation ban is lifted
- Border workers say airways ought to ship workers to assist cut back immigration queues after travellers confronted three-hour waits to enter the UK with red-list passengers unsegregated from the remainder
TIMETABLE OF TRAVEL TURMOIL
March 16, 2020: PM’s name to remain at house
Boris Johnson declares: ‘Now is the time for everybody to cease non-essential contact with others and to cease all pointless journey’
Mar 17: Non-essential worldwide journey BANned for 30 days
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says recommendation displays ‘tempo at which different international locations are both closing borders or implementing restrictive measures’
May 22: Quarantine after arriving in uk
Those coming to Britain are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning from June 8. Anyone who flouts the foundations faces a tremendous of as much as £1,000
Apr 4: Non-essential journey ban prolonged INDEFINITELY
Jun 27: The daybreak of journey corridors
The likelihood of quarantine-free journey is introduced, starting from July 10. The information prompts an explosion in summer time vacation bookings
Jul 3: Quarantine-free locations unveiled
Travel corridors established with some 75 international locations, together with Spain and France
Jul 25: Spain journey hall closed
Quarantine introduced again for travellers from Spain after it sees a spike in covid instances
Aug 13: France and netherlands journey corridors closed
Sep 4: Airport covid checks dominated out by pm
Mr Johnson stated screening passengers would give a ‘false sense of safety’ and solely catch 7 per cent of instances.
Nov 5: Non-essential journey banned (once more)
Second nationwide lockdown begins. Britons are as soon as once more banned from going on vacation.
Dec 2: Travel resumes (aside from tier 4)
New tier system launched in UK. Travel resumes for many – however these in Tier 4 want a ‘legally permitted cause to go away house’.
Jan 6, 2021: Third ban on non-essential journey
Third lockdown begins
Jan 15: Get examined earlier than coming to uk
Those coming to Britain are required to take a PCR take a look at earlier than reaching the UK. They should then self-isolate for ten days to fight the unfold of latest covid variants
Feb 15: Enforced lodge quarantine for some
Travellers from international locations on the Government’s record of banned international locations now face ten days of quarantine in authorized accommodations, at a value of £1,750
May 17: Holiday ban lifted – and visitors mild system begins
Those flying in from ‘purple’ international locations nonetheless face lodge quarantine – however Britons at the moment are legally free to journey to nations on the ‘amber’ and ‘inexperienced’ lists.
Trips to the 12 inexperienced locations, akin to Portugal, are quarantine-free, however going to an amber nation means you should self-isolate afterwards.
May 17 (sure, the identical day): PM warns towards holidays to amber international locations
Downing Street spokesman says Britons ought to solely take breaks in ‘inexperienced’ nations – prompting fury from journey trade (and exasperated holidaymakers, too)
Speaking to Sky this morning, Ms Keegan stated: ‘What we’re saying is the amber record is to not go on vacation, not for pleasure journey for the time being. It’s not in laws, we have not legislated to ban individuals from going on vacation overseas.
‘This is steering. As with a lot of these items we have had all through the pandemic this has been about relying on the nice British public to be wise and observe the steering we have put in place and taking their very own selections actually. But, no, we would not advise going on vacation to the amber record international locations.’
The mayhem started yesterday morning when Mr Eustice stated there could be ’causes’ for going overseas, akin to visiting household and buddies – and other people may journey so long as they noticed quarantine guidelines on their return.
Asked why, regardless of the journey recommendation, greater than 150 plane left the UK yesterday for amber international locations, he informed Today on BBC Radio 4: ‘We do not wish to cease journey altogether and the explanation… that we have the amber record is there can be the explanation why individuals really feel they should journey both to go to household or certainly to go to buddies.’
Within hours, he appeared to have been overruled by the Prime Minister, who insisted amber international locations had been off limits for holidays.
‘It’s essential for individuals to understand what an amber-list nation is: it isn’t someplace the place you need to be going on vacation,’ Mr Johnson stated.
‘And if individuals do go to an amber record nation – they completely have to for some urgent household or pressing enterprise cause.
‘You will have to self-isolate, you may have to take checks and do your passenger locator type and all the remainder of it, however you additionally have to self-isolate for ten days whenever you get again. And that interval of self-isolation, that interval of quarantine, can be enforced with fines of as much as £10,000, so I believe it’s necessary so that you can perceive what an amber-list nation is.’
Then in probably the most forthright assertion up to now Lord Bethell informed fellow friends: ‘Travelling is harmful. That isn’t information to us or to the individuals who get on these planes in the primary place. Please keep in this nation.’
When Baroness Watkins of Tavistock known as for consideration of using digital quarantine tagging – as has been used in South Korea – the well being minister stated he was grateful for the suggestion.
Labour’s Yvette Cooper, chairman of the Commons house affairs committee, stated the fiasco confirmed ministers ‘have not bought a correct grip’.
Speaking to the World At One programme on BBC Radio 4 yesterday, Ms Cooper stated Border Force had ‘a very long time to organize’ for the reopening of overseas journey.
She stated: ‘It’s irresponsible, frankly, to not kind this out as a result of if you happen to have individuals ready for lengthy intervals of time in a not brilliantly ventilated arrivals corridor, typically standing very shut to one another, effectively that is a brilliant spreading danger if you happen to proceed to try this and do not have the right methods in place, particularly if you happen to have individuals arriving from purple record international locations alongside individuals arriving from inexperienced record international locations.
‘So they have to ensure they have correct methods in place, that they have sufficient Border Force workers in place, that they have sufficient digital methods in place, and if they do not have these issues in place at a time after we’re all desperately making an attempt to maintain the progress shifting forwards, there’s an actual danger that we’ll find yourself simply going backwards once more.
‘And that is towards an extended historical past of errors and errors in the insurance policies on the border, these public well being border insurance policies, that have in earlier waves made the pandemic considerably worse.’
Layla Moran MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus, added: ‘We can not permit farcical scenes to proceed in which these arriving from purple record international locations are mixing with others in overcrowded arrival halls, doubtlessly permitting harmful variants to unfold.
‘The authorities should rethink its flawed strategy and discourage abroad holidays whereas offering correct monetary assist to the journey trade.’
Huw Merriman, chairman of the Commons transport committee, stated: ‘I’m afraid it’s a case of confusion reigns. What’s the purpose in bringing in a visitors mild mechanism, labelling amber international locations as ‘average danger’ after which, by implication, shading them purple by telling passengers they should not go?’
Another senior Tory known as Lord Bethell’s feedback ‘idiotic’, including: ‘If the Government is saying all journey is harmful, then why has it simply launched a inexperienced record? The confusion across the amber record is unhealthy sufficient with out including to it.’
EasyJet chief Johan Lundgren stated: ‘Having arrange a framework for worldwide journey the Government appears to be single-handedly dismantling it and inflicting mass confusion with blended messages and sophisticated testing necessities.
‘Let’s face it – in this model of a visitors mild system – inexperienced does not imply inexperienced with all its testing restrictions and now amber, based on some ministers, truly means purple. No marvel the British public is confused.
‘And in the meantime Europe strikes ahead with wise journey frameworks which allow individuals to securely journey once more whereas the UK tries to shut down journey to all however a few international locations.’
Tim Alderslade of the commerce physique Airlines UK stated: ‘The messaging round amber is a complete mess. It’s ridiculous for ministers to now come out and needlessly trigger confusion by advising towards journey.’
Passengers push their baggage as they stroll via the arrivals corridor at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2
A girl pushes baggage via the arrivals corridor at Heathrow Terminal 2 yesterday as individuals arrive in Britain from overseas
Spanish and Greek tourism bosses need their islands on the UK’s inexperienced record
Spanish and Greek tourism chiefs yesterday urged the UK to maneuver their islands on to the inexperienced record for journey.
Fourteen-day an infection charges in the Balearics have dropped beneath 50 instances per 100,000, the second lowest stage amongst Spain’s 17 areas. Majorca has an an infection price of 42.74 per 100,000, Ibiza 25.69 and Formentera 16.51. (*110*) is 76.02.
However the islands are lumped in with ‘amber’ mainland Spain the place charges are larger. Portugal, which is on the inexperienced record, has a price of round 49 per 100,000, based on the information from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Iago Negueruela, tourism minister for the Balearic Islands, urged UK ministers to ‘regionalise’ its inexperienced record to reopen quarantine-free holidays.
‘The Spanish authorities shares our technique that the islands are thought-about individually,’ he stated.
‘We’re asking for it as a result of we have maintained controls at ports and airports for our nationwide travellers. The UK can have the tranquillity that we’re controlling the entry of these travellers once they enter the Balearic Islands.
‘That means for example that somebody coming from Andalusia would want to indicate a unfavourable PCR take a look at to return to Majorca.
‘With such a low accrued incidence of coronavirus, the very fact we have retained management over ports and airports, and our capability to detect and management new strains, the safety is way larger than most of the international locations that have acquired a inexperienced mild score.’
Ministers have pledged to overview the journey inexperienced record each three weeks and have not dominated out treating islands individually.
Officials in Greece say an infection charges on their islands have been falling whereas vaccination charges have ramped up. On Kos, Crete and Mykonos greater than a 3rd of inhabitants have acquired at the very least one dose.
Vicky Loizou, the Greek authorities’s tourism chief, stated she believed UK ministers ‘will change their choice’ to not deal with the islands individually. She stated British vacationers had been necessary to her nation.
Yesterday, one supply at Heathrow watched passengers who walked into the Terminal 2 arrivals corridor on the similar time after touchdown on flights from New York and India, having spent three hours queuing for border checks.
They stated: ‘When the India flights come out, they have a person or a lady in a excessive vis jacket main them, and usually they’re going to result in half a dozen individuals via and so they get escorted, on the entrance and on the again.
‘They then get taken to a separate carry which fits to the basement of Heathrow after which they combine with the general public once more as they get onto a coach to take them to the quarantine lodge.
‘As that occurs, individuals who had been on the New York flights are dashing previous the individuals from the India flights. so that you’re lower than a metre away from people who find themselves going to be quarantined. It simply is senseless in anyway.’
One passenger caught in a queue in Terminal 2 on Monday informed MailOnline: ‘I arrived again in the nation from South Africa – one of many Red Listed international locations. I was extra terrified catching covid whereas going via border management than strolling round South Africa.
‘While queuing there was no social distancing we had a aircraft from India arrive straight after ours and we queued for over three hours and when their aircraft arrived it was out the door.’
Heathrow sources stated consideration was being given to opening one other terminal however that it was at present ‘economically not viable’. Opening one other terminal would price hundreds of thousands of kilos and airport officers have informed the Government that ministers would want to assist foot the invoice.
Terminals 2 and 5 are open however 3 and 4 have been mothballed since final yr in a bid to economize because of the financial hit inflicted by the pandemic.
Re-opening one other terminal will solely develop into economically viable when extra international locations are added to the journey ‘inexperienced record’, that means passenger numbers will doubtless improve together with revenues generated inside the terminal, or if ministers stump up extra monetary assist.
Border sources have predicted far longer waits to get again into Britain later this month – notably when those that started holidays yesterday start to return.
‘The flight numbers aren’t ramping up but however once they do it can be unworkable on the border,’ one insider informed the Daily Mail. ‘We are struggling as it is.
‘There’s been a major improve in the quantity of labor that needs to be finished for every passenger on the border – and that takes time for each single arrive, UK nationwide or not. I concern we can be unable to manage.’
Border checks at present contain a number of levels in addition to the same old eligibility and anti-terror screenings which might be carried out by immigration officers.
Covid guidelines imply officers should decide whether or not a passenger has arrived from a inexperienced, amber or purple record nation, look at their ‘passenger locator type’, and that they have a legitimate unfavourable take a look at certificates, in addition to bookings for checks on the 2nd and eighth days after arriving.
Arrivals from purple record international locations should additionally present proof of their obligatory lodge quarantine bookings.
Steve Myall, who returned together with his spouse and younger household from New York to Heathrow yesterday, stated: ‘The border arrivals corridor had individuals from flights from far and wide with no social distancing – purple record individuals subsequent to amber record.
‘Bearing in thoughts children cannot get vaccinated you’ll have thought they might transfer households via faster.
Air passengers arrive at London Heathrow as they put on face masks whereas strolling via the arrivals corridor
Passengers stroll via the arrivals corridor at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 yesterday
End amber record journey recommendation shambles: Tourism chiefs’ plea as overseas vacation ban is lifted
Tourism and airline chiefs have been left exasperated after the Government’s blended messaging on holidays overshadowed the resumption of overseas journey.
Just because the ban on non-essential journey was lifted, Downing Street doubled down and insisted individuals ought to solely be holidaying in the 12 international locations on the ‘inexperienced record’.
They shouldn’t be travelling to the handfuls of standard locations on the ‘amber record’ except it is important, a spokesman stated.
But yesterday, round 120 flights left Heathrow alone to amber record international locations – in contrast with simply 19 to inexperienced, quarantine-free locations. At Gatwick it was 31 and 6 respectively.
Huw Merriman, Tory chairman of the transport committee, confronted Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the Commons final night time and accused him of ‘successfully turning the amber record into purple’.
He added: ‘Can I ask him what the purpose is of me having my passport any extra? This covid will all the time mutate, the vaccine will all the time have to maintain up, we have managed to vaccinate 99 per cent of the mortality danger. When will this Government truly take a little bit little bit of danger and permit individuals to get on with their lives once more?’
Mr Hancock replied: ‘He ought to get his passport out, he can get on a aircraft to Portugal or one of many different [green list] international locations.’
He additionally confronted requires ‘readability’ in the Commons from predecessor Jeremy Hunt, who stated: ‘Should my constituents go on vacation to international locations on that amber record even when it is not unlawful?’
Mr Hancock replied: ‘The reply isn’t any. People mustn’t journey to amber or purple record international locations or territories… except you have an distinctive cause.’
Last night time, the bosses of British Airways, easyJet and Heathrow had been amongst these to name for higher readability from ministers. They additionally demanded that the quarantine-free journey ‘inexperienced record’ needs to be expanded to stem the losses that threaten the trade’s future.
‘I do not see why it’s such chaos. If variants are the priority then throw cash on the border or possibly a plan to make it hellish to put individuals off journey.’
He added: ‘I think it’s going to be chaos as soon as the airport is taking UK nationals again once they’ve been away.’
Heathrow Airport chief John Holland-Kaye insisted issues had bought higher on the border since queues of as much as seven hours final month. He stated queues had been now typically a lot shorter partly because of guard numbers being boosted.
‘When I was in immigration the opposite day, there have been no queues, we had sufficient desks opened and half of the e-gates in Terminal 5 had been open,’ he stated.
‘What I heard from the pinnacle of Border Force [Paul Lincoln] is that now that improve has occurred all could be open except they had been taken out for upgrades.
‘So successfully most passengers who beforehand used e-gates will have the ability to use e-gates once more.’ He added: ‘We have raised our considerations about what we have seen on the border over the previous couple of months the place there have been far longer queues than are obligatory.
‘However, by elevating it as a public difficulty we have seen the Home Office and Border Force reply, they’ve accelerated the automation course of [by opening up e-gates] which we have been calling for.
‘They put extra officers on the desks and began to alter their processes, and that’s changing into shorter queues on the border.
‘I’m glad to see that Border Force appears to be stepping up.’ Asked if measures on the border had been ‘match for objective’ but, British Airways chief Sean Doyle stated he was ‘inspired’ by a few of the progress made.
But he added: ‘I believe it wants to enhance as we get into the summer time. And I believe there must be a dedication from all events to make it enhance. That’s going to be essential.
‘We have numerous work to do. But we’re progressing alongside the correct path which is to make use of automation, which is to reopen the e-gates and to work as each airways, airports and with Border Force collectively to get this up and working.’
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary George Eustice defended the timing of the Government’s choice to successfully ban journey from India by including it to the purple record from April 23.
In response to options the choice was taken too late, Environment Secretary Mr Eustice informed ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘What we did is put India on the purple record a full six days earlier than that variant was even below investigation and a full two weeks earlier than it was declared a variant of concern.
‘We did put India on the record as quickly as we noticed an uptick in prevalence and effectively earlier than the Indian variant was declared a variant of concern.’
And Mr Johnson has stated India was positioned on the purple record of journey restrictions earlier than the coronavirus variant first recognized in the nation was of concern.
The Prime Minister stated: ‘If you take a look at what occurred with the variant we’re speaking about, the so-called Indian variant, the B1617.2, India was put on the purple record earlier than this was even a variant below investigation, not to mention a variant of concern.
‘So we took immediate motion and we are going to proceed to take very, very draconian motion in respect of all variants coming from wherever world wide.’
A Home Office spokesperson stated: ‘Protecting public well being is our precedence and as we reopen worldwide journey safely we are going to keep 100 per cent well being checks on the border to guard the broader public and our vaccine rollout.
‘While we do that, wait occasions are prone to be longer and we are going to do all we will to clean the method, together with the roll-out of our e-Gate improve programme throughout the summer time and deploying further Border Force officers.
‘Arrangements for queues and the administration of returning passengers are the duty of the related airport, which we count on to be finished in a covid-secure means.’
Border workers say airways ought to ship workers to assist cut back immigration queues after travellers confronted three-hour waits to enter the UK with red-list passengers unsegregated from the remainder
Border Force workers have stated airways ought to ship workers to assist cut back immigration queues after travellers confronted three-hour waits to enter the UK – with red-list passengers unsegregated from others in the road.
Airport and airline workers needs to be deployed to make sure passengers have booked the required Covid checks and crammed in their locator varieties accurately previous to reaching Border Force personnel, a union boss has claimed.
The Immigration Services Union’s Lucy Moreton – who represents border employees – stated checks on the finish of the road are at present being carried out by certified Border Force workers.
Their coaching might be higher used to examine paperwork on the entrance to hurry up the queue, she added – warning the present waits will solely worsen from subsequent week when holidaying Britons return house.
Delays had been yesterday blamed on not sufficient Border Force workers current to hold out the locator type checks – as arrivals claimed greater than two thirds of Border Force desks had been unstaffed.